FORT WORTH, Texas — The Democratic state senator who is leading the fight against significant new restrictions on abortions in Texas said Gov. Rick Perry and other Republicans were hypocritical, claiming to support smaller government but actually trying to increase state intrusion in people’s lives.
Wendy Davis, the lawmaker who single-handedly overcame and outlasted the Republican majority in the state senate last week, is preparing for another battle on Monday. Armed with her new-found fame in Democratic circles in Texas and across the nation, Davis vowed to fight even harder.
“He’s awfully fond of talking the talk of small government,” Davis told ABC’s “This Week,” escalating an intense quarrel with Perry. “But this [anti-abortion legislation] is big government intrusion, there is no question about it.”
In an interview to be broadcast Sunday, Davis sat down with “This Week” inside the Stage West Theatre in Fort Worth, where she worked her way from being a waitress to a Harvard-educated lawyer to a heroine in the eyes of many Democrats.
She offered a window into the secrets of standing and talking for more than 11 straight hours during a legislative filibuster: her dusty running shoes (size 7 Mizuno, narrow); a catheter that allowed her to avoid bathroom breaks (“I came prepared,” she explained); and how she felt the spirit of her hero, the late Gov. Ann Richards, during her marathon session in the Capitol in Austin.
“I was going to wear just some little flat dress shoes. At the last minute, I was running out of my apartment and I thought maybe I might need something with a little more support, so I grabbed these on the way out the door,” Davis said, pointing to her sneakers that have gained Internet fame. “These are actually my running shoes. They’re dusty from the trail around Ladybird Lake.”
In an expansive interview about her life, the state of Texas politics and her future, Davis said she was heartened by the outpouring of support from women and Democrats, which catapulted her from local legislator to one of her party’s prospective rising stars. Asked if she planned to run for governor in 2014, she smiled.
Perry, who has singled out Davis for sharp criticism for her efforts to stop legislation to make Texas one of the most restrictive states in the country to get an abortion, is calling the state senate back Monday for another 30-day special session to try passing the bill.
The measure would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and require abortion clinics to match the requirements of surgical centers. Critics of the legislation say it could force the closure of all but five of the state’s 42 abortion clinics.
“I just refuse to say I believe it will happen. I’m an eternal optimist,” Davis said. “I believe in the power of democracy and I’m going to fight with every fiber I have to keep it from passing.”
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